At some point in their career, almost every project manager wonders whether to get some sort of project management certification. The project management professional (PMP)® certification, administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI)®, is by far the most widely recognized project management certification worldwide.
Based on the amount of time and money it takes to accomplish, it may seem daunting to get PMP certified. However, statistical data and anecdotal evidence support the conclusion that obtaining PMP certification has enormous value for project managers and their employers. That’s why, if you’re considering getting your master’s in project management, you should look for a program that prepares you to take the PMP exam.
What Is PMI and the PMP?
In 1969, PMI was founded “to provide a means for project managers to associate, share information, and discuss common problems.” PMI is now the leading nonprofit membership association for the profession of project management and has grown to become a resource for 2.9 million professionals worldwide.
PMI has member chapters in over 80 countries around the globe and offers eight different project management certifications “that recognize knowledge and competency.” With over 700,000 certified PMPs worldwide, it is the most widely held certification. PMI also produces academic research and thought leadership reports, including the annual Pulse of the Profession®, and hosts a wide range of live and virtual professional development and networking events all over the world. In addition, the PMI Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC) monitors and recognizes degree programs that provide academic training for the project management profession worldwide.
PMI describes the PMP certification as “the gold standard of project management certification” that “validates your competence to perform in the role of a project manager, leading and directing projects and teams.” In order to apply to become a PMP, you must document having attended 35 hours of project management education and complete 7,500 hours if you have an associate’s degree and 4,500 hours if you have a bachelor’s degree leading and directing projects. PMI randomly selects applications for audit to ensure that the experience and education you reported can be verified.
The key resource for exam prep is the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide, but you can also use study guides and take exam preparation courses. Some project management degree programs include exam preparation within the coursework.
"Not only did my experience help me pass the PMP® exam, but the knowledge I gained from the Master's in Project Management from Saint Mary's prepared me for those hard questions as well." Veronica Hiza, MScPM, PMP
Your employer may cover the cost of course preparation in addition to the exam fee. The PMP exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions and must be completed within four hours. To maintain your PMP certification, you must earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) every three years.
Why It Pays to Be PMP Certified
While becoming PMP certified can be costly, complicated and time-consuming, it shows a high level of commitment to project management as a profession. Having the PMP certification provides you with a certain level of prestige and greater access to jobs with higher salaries. According to Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, Ninth Edition, “PMP certification holders earn 20 percent more than their non-certified peers.”
What’s more, some employers require their project managers to be PMP certified or give hiring preference in PMPs. Research shows this can help companies be more competitive, productive, and meet their goals. According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2015 study, in organizations where at least one-third of project managers are PMP certified, a greater number of projects are completed on time, within budget, and within scope.
Additional studies provide supporting evidence that high performance and success may be directly linked to employing PMP certified project managers. On average, about 40 percent of projects are successful and about 20 percent fail completely across a wide variety of industries. Project success rates tend to be associated with the project manager’s qualifications and experience. PMP certification is seen as an indication of potential success and remains the most recognized project management certification worldwide.
If you’re thinking about getting a master’s in project management, you should consider enrolling in the Online M.S. in Project Management program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. The curriculum at Saint Mary’s is not only aligned with the PMBOK and accredited by the GAC, but it also prepares you to take the PMP exam.